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Copyright question

Crumbly Writer

Just visited Bowker to assign ISBNs for some future books, and I noted them offering to "Register Your Copyright" for only $79.95!

I've never been clear on the benefit of registering a copyright. What do you gain by registering a copyright, versus simply claiming one and keeping proof that you wrote the story?

The site claims that you must register to: Enforce your copyright, Recover up to $150,000 in statutory damages, protect your work for life + 70 years (U.S. only, I'm sure), and establish a legal record of content ownership.

Also, I've never been clear about the "@" copyright symbol. Can anyone use it (by default), or does that signify you legally filed for a copyright?

I'm not about to pay that much for something that's free, but I'm curious why anyone would pay that much.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I've never been clear on the benefit of registering a copyright. What do you gain by registering a copyright, versus simply claiming one and keeping proof that you wrote the story?

The site claims that you must register to: Enforce your copyright, Recover up to $150,000 in statutory damages, protect your work for life + 70 years (U.S. only, I'm sure), and establish a legal record of content ownership.


They are wrong.

The only thing you need to register for is to get statutory damages. Without registration you can still sue to enforce the copyright, but you are only entitled to actual damages and you have the burden to prove the amount of the actual damages and that can be difficult.

Registration does not affect the duration of the copyright.

Another thing. You don't have to register the copyright up front, you don't even have to register the copyright before the violation occurs, as long as you register the copyright before you file suit you can get statutory damages.

They also misstate what the amount of statutory damages is, it's $150,000 per violation. If someone pirates your book and creates 10 unlicensed copies, that is 10 violations and under statutory damages you are entitled to $1,500,000 in damages.

Now if you don't register and the same thing happens, you are probably only going to get 10*list price, not much.

The @ copyright is legally meaningless these days. Pre-Bern Convention, you had to include a copyright notice (including the @ symbol) in order for the work to be copyrighted in the first place You also had to register the copyright up front in those days and it is my understanding that including the notice was one of the requirements for registration.

I'm not sure what they are charging $79.95 for.

You can register yourself with the US Copyright Office.


The filing fee is $35 if you register one work by a single author who is also the claimant and the work is not made for hire. Otherwise, the fee for online registration is $55.


http://copyright.gov/circs/circ04.pdf

ETA: I am not a lawyer, If you want real legal advice go talk to a real lawyer.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


I'm not sure what they are charging $79.95 for.


rip off profit for them.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

rip off profit for them.


That's true. Given that you can self register fairly easily I rather doubt that they are providing anywhere near $45 in value.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

That's true. Given that you can self register fairly easily I rather doubt that they are providing anywhere near $45 in value.

Bowker is known for their outrageous prices. The key is to get only what you need (ISBNs), and to buy in bulk to get the price down to a reasonable level.

At $55 bucks, I doubt I'll be filing any copyright registrations anytime soon. With ten published books and another 10 in the works, that would be a bit prohibitive. I'll have to see whether it's possible to do a bulk registration any cheaper.

By the way, what should you list as a copyright date? The date you first began writing the story (your documented ownership date), or the published date?

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, what should you list as a copyright date? The date you first began writing the story (your documented ownership date), or the published date?


Good question. Over the years different courts have given a different answer. I set it as when I have the story mostly done or ready for an editor to look at.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, what should you list as a copyright date? The date you first began writing the story (your documented ownership date), or the published date?


Most traditionally published books I have read, only list a year. For those, they probably list the year the first edition was published. For a self published book, unless there is a significant passage in time between when you wrote it and when you publish it, I wouldn't worry about it that much.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

At $55 bucks, I doubt I'll be filing any copyright registrations anytime soon.


No big deal, no real need to register unless you need to sue someone. You can register then.

Crumbly Writer

Because I use to sweat so much trying to prepare my books for release (trying to design and compose a cover, not getting the ISBN in on time, etc.), I now do all that work before I start writing anything (about the time I'm making notes).

When I file my ISBN, it asks for the copyright date, so I never know whether to list the date I start the work, the date it's ready for editing, the publication date, or whether I should leave it blank. (By the way, Bowker is terrible at documenting how to fill out any of their forms!) I guess I'll just leave it blank until I'm ready to publish (have an established publication date).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Bowker is known for their outrageous prices. The key is to get only what you need (ISBNs), and to buy in bulk to get the price down to a reasonable level.



By the way, Bowker is terrible at documenting how to fill out any of their forms!


Maybe you should try a different supplier.

http://www.isbn-us.com/home1/

Gives you a ISBN and a bar code for a fraction of the cost listed by Bowker.

$55 for self publisher package. Just $29 for e-book only.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Gives you a ISBN and a bar code for a fraction of the cost listed by Bowker.


(start gloat mode) I get my ISBNs for free from Lulu. (end gloat mode)

CW, for the copyright date they usually just ask for, and want, a year, so I put the year of when I write either the main plot or the first chapter is completed.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I get my ISBNs for free from Lulu.


Do you get a bar code to go with it?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Do you get a bar code to go with it?


Yes, and they also automatically include the ISBN in the metadata for the e-book, as well as the bar code on the back of the book cover for you if you get one for the print books.

Wheezer

The correct copyright symbol is ©. Unicode U + 00A9 or keystroke [alt] + 0169

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

(start gloat mode) I get my ISBNs for free from Lulu. (end gloat mode)

Yes, but the look's publisher is listed as "lulu", instead of you. I prefer having myself listed as the publisher, since I'm the one who puts the book together, formats and markets it. What's more, if someone searches for my name in a book store, my books should appear simply based on the publisher's name.

@Dominions Son

Gives you a ISBN and a bar code for a fraction of the cost listed by Bowker.

$55 for self publisher package. Just $29 for e-book only.

I'll have to check them out. Since I bought a block of 100 ISBNs (which I use a minimum of three for each book I publish, more if I publish to Apple and/or Google Books), I'm set for a while. But it'll be nice having an alternate to Bowker. I just spent an entire afternoon filling out the information for three books. An easier to manage form would be a godsend!

@Dominions Son

Do you get a bar code to go with it?

Since I don't sell my own books, I don't need to worry about that. Specific bar codes are necessary if you sell books on either your website, or you sell them out of the back of your van.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Yes, but the look's publisher is listed as "lulu", instead of you. I prefer having myself listed as the publisher, since I'm the one who puts the book together, formats and markets it.


The ISBN represents a version of a book. That is, who the publisher is, the edition, hard cover/paperback/ebook, format of ebook, etc. It's purpose is to be able to order the correct book. So the ISBN should be the publisher.

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